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6 small things you should do to help the planet on Earth Day

Por: Verónica Suárez21 de abril de 2022

It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed when we think about helping the planet, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are 7 small actions you can start doing for Earth Day.

Earth Day is an annual event that has been designed to show the serious environmental problems we’re facing, from the climate crisis to air pollution and deforestation. This year, Earth Day is happening on April 22nd.

Every year there’s a different theme, and for Earth Day 2022 it’s called Invest In Our Planet. With this, it’s planned to call for governments, businesses, and individuals to invest in a better future for the planet. This year is also a focus on sustainable fashion, with launching a petition calling for change within the fashion industry.

So, while Earth Day organizers have suggested a few ideas via their toolkit, there are some small actions you can make to help the planet for Earth Day (and maybe turn them into a habit).

1. Bring your own water bottle

Yeah, sometimes bringing your water bottle can be uncomfortable, but it’s a small change we can do for the environment. A research from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) shows that, if the whole city’s population were all to drink bottled water, this would result in a 3,500 times higher cost of resource extraction than if they all drank tap water. They also found that the impact of bottled water on ecosystems is 1,400 times higher than tap water.

In the US, 17m barrels of oil are needed to produce the plastic to meet the annual bottled water demand. On the other hand, bottled water in the UK is at least 500 times more expensive than tap water.

Single-use plastic bottles are the most prevalent form of plastic packaging in our oceans. Oceana, a global ocean conservation charity, estimated that 12 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year; out of all plastic waste ever generated, only 9% has been recycled.

So, bringing your water bottle will not only be helpful to the environment, but it will also help your wallet. You can start by simply bringing one to work or school and see how it helps you out!

2. Eat vegetarian more often

You don’t have to become a vegetarian (or vegan) to help the planet, and you can even get some of the benefits of this type of diet for yourself. The idea is to start by reducing red meat or eating vegetarian (at least) once a week.

You can follow Meatless Monday, a nonprofit organization that shows inspiration, recipes, and guides to help implement it in anyone’s lifestyle.

This change of diet can be very helpful because livestock accounts for a 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gases, and while this statistic won’t change in a day, this can reduce food emissions by 73%, meaning that eating less meat, fish, and dairy is one of the most effective ways we can reduce our carbon footprint.

Also, according to Healthline magazine, a vegetarian diet can help heart health, reduce cancer risk, prevent type 2 diabetes, lowers blood pressure, decrease asthma symptoms, and promote bone health. So, just changing red meat to chicken can mean a lot for your body and the environment. Try it out!

3. Try different ways of transportation

Cars are known to be one of the major causes of global warming; nevertheless, most of us need them to do things like work or go to school. So, one great small action could be using public transportation if that’s a viable option where you live. You can also share a car with someone that is going to the same place as you, like a colleague. There’s also the option of walking different roads to reduce the carbon footprint, exercise, and lower the amount of traffic in your city.

You can try to change into a hybrid or electric car, which dramatically reduces your carbon footprint. One study found that the lifetime emissions of an electric car are 70% less than those given off by engines that use gasoline. If you’re traveling long distances, cutting back on air travel is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Try traveling by train, or enjoy more staycations, there is always something new to do in your city.

4. Buy clothes responsibly

More than 100 billion pieces of clothing are produced every year, and most of them end up in landfills all over the world. So, before you buy anything (but especially clothes), ask yourself why you’re buying it and how many times you’re actually going to wear it. Also, if possible, try buying from sustainably focused brands.

While many fashion brands use buzzwords like “sustainable,” “eco-friendly,” “conscious,” and “responsible,” it doesn’t mean that they are doing it. This is known as greenwashing when brands use vague, misleading, or false claims to suggest it’s more eco-friendly than it is. This means that changing our shopping habits will help reduce the production of new clothing, but also recycling and donating old clothes.

5. Shop secondhand clothes

Secondhand (or vintage) shopping has become very popular, and with good reason. First, it helps to reduce waste; just in the UK, 11,000 charity shops saved 330,000 metric tons of textiles from landfills and helped cut carbon emissions by millions of tons a year by reusing and recycling second-hand clothes.

Secondly, it helps to find clothes that probably no one else will have, showing a part of fashion history, but also showing your true style. This has been facilitated by different thrift shopping websites, and there are a lot of small boutiques that sell secondhand clothing. It’s up to you to explore and find what your city has to offer.

6. Avoid single-use plastic

While most of our plastic doesn’t get recycled, there are small ways to reduce our plastic use. For example, lots of places give a discount on coffee when you bring your own mug or use a mug from the restaurant. You can also cut out plastic utensils by having a set of silverware in your bag or purchasing lightweight bamboo utensils.

But there are other everyday items that contain plastic, some of them surprising, like:

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